Friday, November 16, 2012

Parent Teacher conferences

Last Thursday, before we got snowed in, we headed to the kids' schools for parent teacher conferences.  Dylan's teacher, Mr. Tesson, was up first.  Not long after we got into the classroom, Dylan was showing his sisters around while we started visiting with the teacher, and at some point little man heard his name and looked toward the three of us and grinned a mile wide.  Mr. Tesson, with obvious affection, said, "That smile, oh that smile, it could get you out of anything."  He told us repeatedly that Dylan was a great kid and that they were having a lot fun.

And he told us about his challenges with Dylan, smiling genuinely the whole time.  Apparently, a few times Dylan has simply refused to do something (eat the daily snack--usually some kind of fruit or vegetable--even though all he has to do is taste it, or get up and stretch during the afternoon with the rest of the class, or answer his teacher during oral exercises) just because he wasn't interested in doing it at the moment.  And its good to know that Mr. Tesson employs the same method we do at home: patiently wait him out, restricting all other privileges or activities until the required ones were completed.  As we commiserated about the challenges of teaching an iron-willed and very independent child, Dylan flashed us another smile, and it had the same affect on all three of us: What a delight he is!  He is rarely defiant out of rebelliousness--I won't do this because you want me to--when he is defiant it is simply because he doesn't understand why he should ever have to do something he doesn't want to do.  Most of the time, he is so pleasant and sincerely friendly.  Its relatively easy to wait him out on those things he gets stubborn about, because he's not a tantrum thrower and doesn't have much temper, he's just so enjoyable the rest of the time that its easy to not be mad.

I told his teacher that Dylan had whined to me that he couldn't read chapter books because they were too hard, but I got a couple of Magic Treehouse books from the library and he flew through them--it took him one afternoon a piece to read them from beginning to end.  Mr. Tesson told us he was in the top reading group they have for the first grade and is still outscoring most of the class.  So, as I suspected, he's a bit lazy.  We'll work on that.

Keilana has Ms. Flynn this year, whom she just adores.  She's also doing well in all her subjects, and Ms. Flynn couldn't stop saying how sweet she is--helpful and affectionate and always, always, always smiling.  We laughed about what a little perfectionist she is (one time this year, her homework didn't make it to school, and it was, admittedly, my fault, and she reminds me at least once a week that the only work on her homework chart is because of me).  She has made a lot of friends this year, and has been working hard on every assignment she's been given.  She's a very attentive and careful student--she has her mother's need to please the adults in her life (hey, it served me well at that age, hopefully it will serve her well, too).

So, the main thing I took away from these meetings, now that I've made you sit through all this rambling about my kids, is that it is absolutely wonderful to have real conversations with my kids' teachers and see that those teachers know my kids and genuinely love my kids.  From what I can tell without sitting in the classroom, they seem to be very good teachers, too.  Even though our kids go to school all day, we ultimately take responsibility for their education and do a lot of things at home to try to enrich their learning (first and foremost with requiring reading time every day, and trying to gently guide their reading choices a bit), but its nice to feel like that 7 hours a day is well worth everybody's time, and that they're spending it with people who are paying attention to them and know what helps them and what doesn't.  Being raised by two good teachers, I have some idea what it takes to do that job well, and I'm grateful that my kids have teachers like that.

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